Houston & Peach

Sheriff’s handler’s K-9 mistook him for the suspect; and he had to shoot him

A Houston County sheriff’s deputy was forced to shoot and kill the K-9 he handled after the dog attacked him, the sheriff says.

Sgt. Slate Simons was attacked by the dog Tuesday afternoon while helping the Dooly County Sheriff’s Office on a manhunt, Houston County Sheriff Cullen Talton said.

“He turned on Slate,” Talton said. “He grabbed onto the calf of his leg and tore his leg up pretty bad. Bit him all the way down to the bone, and the only way he could get him loose was he had to shoot the dog.”

Simons was taken to the Medical Center, Navicent Health, and was released Tuesday night. He was recuperating at home Wednesday.

Simons said he and the dog, named Kyro, were in a super-thick wooded area when he thinks Kyro mistook him for the suspect. Simons said he had the 4-1/2-year-old Belgian Malinois on a 15-foot lead.

“He was just doing his job,” Slate said. “It was just mistaken identity. It was just unfortunate circumstances.”

Simons and Kyro had been partners for about three years, and the dog stayed with Simons at his home. The dog had not had any behavioral problems and was great with children, Simons said.

The partners often visited elementary schools, and Kyro had won obedience competitions, Simons said.

“He was just a phenomenal dog,” Simons said.

The dog’s body is expected to be examined for signs of illness, including rabies. However, the dog was up to date on all of its shots, including rabies, Talton said.

“That’s hurting him worse than anything else right now,” Talton said of Simons having to shoot the dog.

Kyro is expected to be cremated after the examination and his remains returned to Simons.

Becky Purser: 478-256-9559, @BecPurser

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Houston County Sheriff’s Sgt. Slate Simons.